Thursday, March 14
Aranya Nivas, 13:24
We got up feeling completely rested, and walked ten metres to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast that, in my case, involved watermelon juice, cornflakes, toast and marmalade, and some bananas. With a pot of fresh Kerala coffee.
At 11:15 we took a boat trip to the Lake Palace, a building that used to belong to the King. On the way we saw a family of otters in the water, buffalo in the distance, and numerous birds in the trees.
We got off the boat at the Palace and it then continued cruising around the lake, before coming back an hour later to collect us, and two American women who had stayed overnight in one of the five rooms. During the hour we had had a tour of the building, and very palace-like it proved.
The boat ride back featured a long lingering look at a lizard at least a metre and a half long that walked slowly from the water and up a slope to the forest. It looked convincingly as though we had entered The Lost World.
When we got off the boat we wandered up and into the terminal building where we found a little shop in the dark because a power cut had started. Nonetheless Irma found a large brightly-coloured packet of locally made soaps as a gift for her mother.
As we left the shop a monkey ran into the building and leapt up to grab the packet from Irma’s hand. She had it in a tight grip so for some seconds it swung on one end while she held the other, until it gave up and dropped onto the floor.
A few moments later we watch the same monkey opening a rubbish bin just outside the building. It undoes the latch, looks around carefully, ignoring us, before going in, and emerging with a drink can. It then spends five minutes draining every last drop from it.
We will then go to have a cup of chai in a café that closely resembles a cage. We sit inside the cage while monkeys sit outside watching us, and sometimes (when the door gets opened to let someone in or out) calculate whether they can get in at the same time or not.
We will then both go swimming, the only people in the pool. We will play with the rubber rings and amuse ourselves for an hour or so.
At about 17:15 we will walk ten metres to the beer parlour where we will again find ourselves alone.
Dinner will consist of aloo mutter followed by caramel custard.
We will get an internet connection for the first time in days. Mail will come flooding in and some will get answered.